Fourteen years ago, in the winter of 2001, I was living and working in the city of Malmö, near the southern tip of Sweden.
The previous year, in June 2000, the Öresund link (bridge and tunnel) between Sweden and Denmark had been opened to the public. My apartment, in the suburb of Limhamn, was close to the Swedish landfall of the bridge.
I was awed by the scale and beauty of the bridge, by the conceit of building such a structure across the sea between the two countries, bringing Malmö and Copenhagen together. Thanks to the bridge, I could be in Nørreport Station in the heart of Copenhagen in half an hour, or Copenhagen Airport in 15 minutes.
On the dark winter evenings after work, I would go for a run along the coast to a viewing point near where this incredible structure launched itself high overhead, curving off into the distance towards Copenhagen. It was always just “The Bridge”; no other name was needed.
The third series of the Danish/Swedish crime thriller Bron/Broen (“The Bridge”) has recently started showing on Saturday nights on BBC4. I am a huge fan of this stylish series and find myself excitedly looking forward to the next instalment.
Take a minute to watch the opening credits on YouTube here, with its beautiful night-time time-lapse photography and haunting theme song by Choir of Young Believers:
The bridge itself is at the heart of the programme, and I always feel a little thrill of affection when it appears.
The Bridge is bilingual. The Danish and the Swedish characters each speak their own language, and they understand each other perfectly. This may seem improbable, but is not so far from reality; the Danish and Swedish languages are very close, especially the variety of Swedish spoken in Skåne, which is very close to Copenhagen and was once part of the Kingdom of Denmark. However, Danish is famously not enunciated as clearly as Swedish, so I think in reality there would be more effort required to communicate, more requests for repetition, and more misunderstandings than appear in the show.
The employees of the company that operates the bridge speak Danish and Swedish in the course of their work, and the official name of the bridge “Øresundsbron” is a nice compromise between the Danish “Øresundsbroen” and the Swedish “Öresundsbron”.
As the logo suggests, the bridge forms only half of the link between the two countries, covering the first 8 km from the Swedish coast, before landing on an artificial island at the midway point (named Peberholm, as a companion to the nearby Saltholm) and dipping underground to form a tunnel for the remainder of the crossing to Denmark.
Note: the above photos of the bridge are not mine – they are pictures I found on various websites. I was surprised, when preparing this post, to discover how few photos I seem to have from my time in Sweden, although it is only 14 years ago. However I did come across this picture; it’s on a different bridge between two islands in Denmark. A truck had jack-knifed in front of us in icy conditions, blocking the bridge completely and leaving us temporarily stranded.